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Women Conference / Ma Thida
THURSDAY AUGUST 31 7:29 A.M. EDT
Amnesty International Holds Protest in China
HUAIROU, China (Reuter) - Amnesty International held a daring
demonstration Thursday outside a session kicking off a decennial
grassroots women's forum in China, displaying posters representing 12
victims of human rights abuses.
About 15 to 20 activists of the London-based human rights group took
part in Amnesty's unprecedented protest on Chinese soil, holding up
posters and T-shirts bearing pictures and names of the women, who
included two Chinese.
Police did not try to intervene, but a Chinese woman official with a
megaphone said in English: ``No meeting here. Please go to Middle
School Number One or the Global Tent.''
Chinese authorities have designated the school parade ground as the
official site for demonstrations during the Non Governmental
Organizations (NGO) Forum on Women that ends on Sept. 8.
``Amnesty International must face the issue of human rights violations
against women in China,'' said Amnesty spokeswoman Anita Tiessen. ``In
China, unofficial women's groups face harassment by authorities.''
Among the 12 women and women's groups whose posters were displayed
outside the plenary session of the world's largest women's meeting was
Chinese journalist Gao Yu.
She was jailed last year for six years on charges of leaking state
secrets in articles published in Hong Kong.
Gao, 51, whose reports in the independent Economics Weekly won her an
international reputation in the mid-1980s, was arrested in October
1993, just two days before she was to leave China to begin a
journalism fellowship in the United States. She is reported to be in
The other Chinese woman was a Tibetan nun, Phuntsog Niydrou,
imprisoned in 1989, apparently for activities linked to anti-Chinese
unrest after the Himalayan region's exiled god-king, the Dalai Lama,
won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
She is serving a 17-year prison sentence, the longest of any female
political dissident in China, for her activities and for smuggling out
tapes and poems related to alleged torture in jail, Amnesty said.
The other 10 victims represented were Burma's Dr Ma Thida, all the
women killed in Rwanda's genocide, 16-year-old Algerian Katia Bengana
who was shot dead for refusing to wear a veil and Brazil's Edmeia Da
Also named were Equatorial Guinea's Maria Teresa Akumu, Faye Copeland
who faces the death penalty in the United States, rape victim Mirjana
of Bosnia, Kuwait's Hamda Af'ad Yunis, Maria Moldovan of Romania and
Turkey's Eren Keskin.
``It is a peaceful demonstration,'' Tiessen said. ``We believe it is a
kind of protest that is acceptable. It is the kind of activity you
would expect at a women's conference.''